Homelessness in Lacey, Washington
Brianna Lopez, Staff Writer
Homelessness has always been an issue in modern society, especially in largely populated cities, but what is being done about this issue and how are people responding? COVID-19 has caused a large increase in unemployment, which has led to individuals losing their homes. There are different programs that people can apply to in order to help themselves, but many feel it is also the duty of these highly-populated cities to help.
The City of Lacey has dealt with homelessness for quite some time. The homeless now find shelter under bridges or in homeless shelters. Unfortunately, these shelters fill up fast, leaving many individuals to face the ever-changing climate.
Rick Walk, the City of Lacey Community and Economic Development Director, explained what the city has decided to do to help decrease homelessness and the impact it has made on his life. Walk also explained the way people have responded to the city’s plan. The Community work group consists of 30 members coming from different backgrounds such as business owners, nurses, those who have been homeless and more.
This project to decrease homeless numbers started about a year ago. The work group along with City Council members are in the middle of processing how to perfect this work group and what would best work for the community. There was a two-week virtual open house in the summer of 2020 where they spoke about what would happen during these work groups and what they are all about. These conversations are done virtually since we are currently in a pandemic and guidelines will be continuously followed.
Continuing the conversation with Mr. Walk, one might wonder how he feels the project has impacted him as an individual. He responded positively, considering it a “very rewarding experience.” The homeless population continues to grow, quickly exceeding the facilities that we have, so how do we decrease the numbers?
Like anyone who wants to make a change, there is the opportunity to hear very strong opinions and perspectives. How you help people understand what your perspective is on issues you feel strongly about is a very difficult task. Some people will always show up and have a completely different opinion.
Walk also stated that he is becoming more aware of the complexity of homelessness. Drugs, mental health, family conflicts and more play a large part in it. There is a negative perspective some people have of homelessness, but by educating ourselves we may learn something that changes our point of view. In order for a community to respond in a strong way, they must work together.